Groundbreaking Customer Satisfaction Award Marks 20th Anniversary

Groundbreaking Customer Satisfaction Award Marks 20th Anniversary

NorthFace ScoreBoard Award℠ Established Defining SBI Metrics for
Creating World-Class Excellence in Customer Service and Support


By Bill Moore

VP Client Services CXDNA Playbook Strategy

Customer Relationship
Management Institute LLC (CRMI)

By Bill Bradley

VP Marketing, CXDNA Stakeholder Strategy

Customer Relationship Management Institute LLC (CRMI)


In 1984, IBM’s annual report was dedicated to the “Year of the Customer,” the first recognition that superior customer service/support (CX) is the company’s true competitive differentiator.  Over the years, IBM would be joined by many other service thought leaders: Lexus, Ritz-Carlton, Walt Disney, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, et. al. who made the transition making customer service/support their strongest and most critical competitive advantage.

This vision was counter to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” that imagined a society where individualism and independent thinking were regarded as “thought crimes” instead of “thought leadership.”

This turnaround towards service thought leadership would continue with the impact of an award that was the first (2000) to recognize organizations that consistently exceeded customer expectations for service/support – and that CX must be the most critical component of a company’s DNA, (CXDNA).  That award –NorthFace ScoreBoard Award℠ — marks its 20th anniversary in 2020 (NFSB Recipients Press Release).

The NorthFace ScoreBoard (NFSB) Award created the structure necessary to objectively measure and validate the quality of the customer experience in all interactions with a company.  Before the NFSB Award, measuring customer satisfaction was largely an ad hoc, reactive activity performed periodically by service organizations.

But the NFSB Award contributed to changing the subjectivity and marginal importance of the customer experience.  Since 2000, the award has been presented annually to organizations that — based solely on survey responses from a company’s own customers — consistently exceeded customer expectations for service/support for a full calendar year.  To ensure objectivity and absence of bias, the survey and results are audited by Customer Relationship Management Institute, LLC (CRMI), an independent third party and an expert in the field of CX.


NFSB Award Delivers a Clear Competitive Edge for Recipients (above Haemonetics)

The business world has come to understand that customers – not products and services – are the source of all revenue and profits.  This means that companies cannot afford to turn a blind eye to CX and just rely on product features and benefits, which had been the standard before the NFSB Award helped in the transition to CXDNA culture.  In truth, while there are clear differences in product performance among direct competitors, no vendor has a distinct advantage for a long period of time, and consistent problems with product installation, usage and service/support will quickly prompt a customer to choose another supplier.  In other words, customer loyalty must be earned – not just assumed by product performance and technology vision.

The NFSB Award was innovative in establishing universal survey measurement standards’ (SBI – 1992) that use a five-point weighted average scale to measure both customer satisfaction and customer loyalty by using Level 1 as the lowest rating and level 5 as the highest rating.


Customer Satisfaction:

  1. Failed all customer expectations
  2. Performed below customer expectations
  3. Met customer expectations
  4. Performed above customer expectations
  5. Exceeded customer expectations

Customer Loyalty:

  1. Definitely would not recommend
  2. Highly unlikely to recommend
  3. Maybe recommend
  4. Highly likely to recommend
  5. Definitely would recommend


The weighted average formula, referred as the ScoreBoard Index (SBI), provided a much more accurate measurement of customer sentiment (clear customer intelligence) than the traditional percent satisfied /loyal metrics.  For the first time, the service executive could clearly see customer metrics that directed priorities for critical corrective action and which overtime could be re-measured to see the impact of the corrective action taken. The five-point scale made survey responses more accurate/ easy to understand and the weighted average calculation resulted in any ratings below 4.0 as simply not good enough to retain / grow customers, rather, over time would lead to customers defections. The NFSB Award five-point criteria was extended to include other rating scales (such as 3-6-7-8-9-10 point / Net Promoter Score NPS).

Example: SBI Formula (based on weighted average):

Assumption: satisfaction and recommend responses were identical

Please rate your overall satisfaction with our customer service?

  1. Failed all customer expectations
  2. Perform below customer expectations
  3. Met customer expectations
  4. Perform above customer expectations
  5. Exceeded customer expectations


Level 5 (18 responses) x 5 points Subtotal A / 90
Level 4 (14 responses) x 4 points Subtotal B / 64
Level 3 (3 responses) x 3 points Subtotal C / 9
Level 2 (3 responses) x 2 points Subtotal D / 6
Level 1 (2 responses) x 1 point Subtotal E / 2
Total (40) responses divided by Total point value (171)= 4.28 SBI


Please rate your overall willingness to recommend our customer service?

  1. Definitely not recommend
  2. Highly unlikely to recommend
  3. Maybe recommend
  4. Highly likely to recommend
  5. Definitely would recommend
Level 5 (18 responses) x 5 points Subtotal A / 90
Level 4 (14 responses) x 4 points Subtotal B / 64
Level 3 (3 responses) x 3 points Subtotal C / 9
Level 2 (3 responses) x 2 points Subtotal D / 6
Level 1 (2 response) x 1 point Subtotal E / 2
Total (40) responses divided by Total point value (171) = 4.28 SBI


SBI Formula:

Select each question and multiply each level responses (5-4-3-2-1) by their associated point values (5-4-3-2-1) = subtotals (90-64-9-6-2) then divide sum of all subtotals (171) by the total responses (40) = SBI 4.28 rounded 2 decimal. When viewing the above results over a minimum three (3) month window, market research shows that continuous superior customer service is the key metric in retaining / upgrading customers. Also, that 4.0 and above rating for service and loyalty is clear customer intelligence evidence that the competitor barrier has dramatically increased to win these accounts. Further, these accounts are excellent candidates for marketing testimonials to be used to acquire new accounts and / or winback lost accounts. Lastly, SBI measurement is key to providing clear customer intelligence data to conduct the critical corrective action necessary to provide continuous superior customer service that results in long term customer loyalty.

To receive the NFSB Award, a company must achieve a minimum 4.0 rating (or equivalent) over a full calendar year.  Again, the survey instrument and the customer responses are audited for accuracy and absence of bias by CRMI.  For this reason, earning the NFSB Award is objective proof that a company consistently provides superior customer service / support that competitors who have not received the award simply cannot match.

“NFSB Award recipients have proven that excellence in customer service /support has delivered measurable CX ‘Big 4’ bottom line results,” said John Maraganis, president & CEO of CRMI.  The CX “Big 4” includes: 1) attracting new customers; 2) retaining customers; 3) growing wallet share; 4) winning-back lost customers.


NFSB Award is Powered by CXDNA Playbook StrategySM

CRMI’s revolutionary CXDNA Playbook Strategy (launched in 1994) acts as a roadmap for companies to maximize the value of their products/services to customers by accurately measuring the impact to their customers.  CXDNA strategy makes it possible, for the first time, for organizations to measure, analyze, act on and assess their efforts to establish a CX culture as a business strategy just as they’d always done for sales, engineering, manufacturing, finance and other traditional operating areas.  There are four phases to the Playbook: Measure, Analyze, Act, Assess with 12 component practices within those phases.

  • Measure: CX Governance, CX Account Management, CX Technologies
  • Analyze: CX Business Intelligence, CX Analytics, CX Benchmarking
  • Act: CX Corrective Action, CX Employee Engagement, CX Change Management
  • Assess: CX Stakeholders Communications, CX Win-back Strategy CX Return on Investment (ROI)

The CXDNA Playbook strategy continues to evolve over the years including leveraging social media and communicating CX results thru a comprehensive stakeholders communication campaign (press release – annual report – report card – webcasts – etc.) targeted to customers, partners, employees and prospects.

NFSB Award Background and Evolution

The award was created by CRMI’s founder and first presented in 2000.  CRMI’s founder was a pioneer in the field service industry, introducing the first automated service management software (fieldwatch) that improved customer experiences in the field service marketplace.  From this pioneer came the CXDNA Playbook Strategy that embraces employee engagement as its founding principle.

The Playbook provides the knowledge and strategy to create a customer-centric culture that includes overall CX governance and employee engagement to raise the awareness of, commitment to, and competence in, continuously delivering superior customer experiences.

Since 2000, more than 500 recipients have earned the NFSB Award — many have done so multiple times and often in many consecutive years.  Prominent recipients include Avaya, Boston Scientific, CA Technologies (now part of Broadcom), Citrix, Fresenius-Kabi, Haemonetics, Hologic, Kronos, NETSCOUT, Oracle, Pitney Bowes, Sony, Wolters Kluwer and many others.

CRMI added a new Summit category presented to organizations that that have truly transformed into CXDNA culture. The Summit CXDNA criteria includes organizations that have received the award for five consecutive years, implemented customer relationship training focused on engaging employees to provide consistent superior customer experiences, and have an annual CX strategy review process.  The new physical NFSB Award includes a Summit classification with a gold circle of stars surrounding the number of years the company has earned the award along with “World Class Excellence” exclusive classification.

In 2020, CRMI added a special NFSB COVID-19 Service Award to recognize companies and their supply chain partners who have been recognized by President Trump’s COVID-19 Task Force and/or Forbes magazine for exceptional service in fighting the deadly pandemic. “We choose to recognize these companies as the volunteer army for the battle against COVID-19 via our NorthFace ScoreBoard Customer Service Excellence Award with an honorary NFSB COVID-19 certificate that will memorialize their contribution,” Maraganis said.  Not since World War II has the United States and other countries seen a shift to produce hand sanitizers, masks, ventilators and other critical healthcare items. This is a time that will live in the history books, and the NFSB COVID-19 Honorary Certificate will record those companies who contributed to winning this epic battle.  These companies may also submit their customer survey results for customer service/support to see if they qualify for the actual NFSB Award.

Since implementing effective CX principles is vital to sustaining consistent growth in revenue and profits, sharing stories of companies’ CX successes is crucial.  The stories should allow the company to provide a review of its CXDNA strategy and measurable results, include customer testimonials and case studies.  The vehicle to tell this story is a powerful webcast that clearly communicates the company’s journey to making CX the most critical component of the company’s DNA.  Companies invite their customers, prospects, business partners and employees to the webcasts and post the content on their websites as well as using it in other marketing activities.

The CXDNA Playbook Partner program extends the NFSB award criteria to 3rd party vendors (EFM – CRM – CX Consultant – CX Educational training – CX Market Research) with the opportunity to bundle the NFSB Award with their products / services.) To qualify for the partner program, these organizations must be identified as an significant contributor to improving CX as described in the CXDNA Playbook Strategy. Partners receive NFSB co-brand license that includes their logo and the specific Playbook component (s) on the physical NFSB award delivered to their customers who meet the NFSB criteria. The NFSB co-brand award provides an “added value service” to their products / services (above – Marketii CXDNA Analytics).



Twenty years is not a very long time in the business world.  But since the introduction of the innovative NFSB Award in 2000, the very substance of a successful business model has changed.  Rather than being product/technology driven, today’s successful companies have embraced the wisdom and logic of putting customers at the center of everything they do.  Having a proven, verifiable reputation and culture for providing excellence in CX is key to customer acquisition, retention, growth and win-back for any company.

Moreover, as companies move increasingly to online/virtual business models, achieving and sustaining optimal levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty have become even more critical factors of success.  Physical and voice contact with a company’s customers and other key external stakeholders has largely been replaced by electronic and other web-based interactions.  This means that, increasingly, while companies conduct heavy email and web marketing programs to attract new accounts, potential customers often find you before you identify them.

This trend has made it even more important to measure and understand the true “voice of the customer.”  Since the NFSB Award criteria is unique in both measurement metrics (SBI rating or equivalent rating system) and that only customer survey responses are used to determine the level of CX excellence a company provides, the NFSB Award is the ultimate VoC measurement.  That’s why recipients are so proud to earn the award and take full advantage of the service, sales and marketing opportunities they have to deliver a clear competitive advantage to the marketplace.


To learn more about the NorthFace ScoreBoard Award, the CXDNA Playbook Strategy and other programs mentioned here, contact Diane Rivera, CRMI’s director of corporate membership and sponsorship services.  She can be reached at 978/710-3269 or via  Also please visit CRMI’s website:


You’ve Defined Your Brand’s Flaws and Foibles — Now You Need An Effective Corrective Action Plan

Much like your annual New Year’s Resolutions, the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) comes into play after you’ve taken stock of your brand’s faults and failures. After all, you’ve gathered business intelligence, implemented data analytics, and embraced the benchmark process throughout the past quarter, so you’re completely in-tune with what works (and what doesn’t) across your company. Now, however, it’s time to grab that metaphorical hammer so you can knock down what’s beyond repair and rebuild what needs to be fixed.

Whether you’re responding to direct customer feedback, or identifying weak spots within your strategy, corrective action plans empower your brand to restore customer service to its full potential. In return, these measures will ultimately influence your company’s preventive action plans, as you will be able to look ahead and remain aware of any problems that might be lurking underneath the surface of your present strategy.

According to OpenEI’s definition, both corrective and preventive action plans consist of improvements made to an organization’s processes in an effort to eliminate causes of non-conformities or other undesirable situations. “It is usually a set of actions that laws or regulations require an organization to take in manufacturing, documentation, procedures, or systems to rectify and eliminate recurring nonperformance.” While corrective actions are implemented in response to customer complaints, unacceptable levels of product non-conformance, issues identified during an internal audit, as well as adverse or unstable trends in product and process monitoring, preventive actions are implemented in response to the identification of potential sources of non-conformity.

But what goes into creating an effective corrective action plan exactly? Follow these five steps as you draft your strategy:

1.  Define the problem.

Before you can tackle the problem, you must define the problem. Be sure to remain clear and concise so all parties involved are on the same page. Once you understand what’s wrong, you can then begin to make it right. Determine what’s happening and how it contradicts your intention. From here, your team can develop a road map that leads your brand back to its ideal destination. If you can name the issue at hand, you can ultimately find its solution. Be sure to listen to your customers constantly, as they will be your most reliable source for insight into the issues that arise during their regular interactions with your company.

2.  Establish accountability.

Once you’ve determined the problem and developed the solution, you must establish accountability among those who are tasked with rectifying the issue. Each party must know what they’re responsible for in this scenario and how their actions contribute to the greater good of the project in question. They need to know the value of their role in detail to ensure that their performance remains consistent and strong. These team members must understand how to operate independently and jointly in order to comprehend how their specific role feeds into the bigger picture. By assigning small, more manageable tasks, you also empower more employees to become invested in the company’s overall success, as they now have the capacity to impact its future CX strategies.

3.  Create quantifiable solutions.

There’s no way to prove your actions will have the desired impact if you don’t create solutions that can be measured over time. You want to fix the problem for good, after all. However, companies have been known to implement changes they assume will remedy the issue, only to find that the problem persists. They neglect to map their approach and assess their progress. They believe they know what’s best and what will work even though their prior failures prove otherwise. Thus, when you finally decide to put the CAP into action, you need to understand which key performance indicators (KPIs) you plan to observe and measure so you can regularly evaluate its impact on CX.

4.  Set attainable deadlines.

While problems certainly don’t adhere to any sort of calendar, your solutions should. When you choose to implement your solution, you must also set up a timeline in order to measure your corrective action plan’s effectiveness. Some issues might take longer to resolve than others, so your deadline must allow your team enough time to address the problem and implement the solution. Each solution might also require multiple steps on the path to complete implementation, so your employees might benefit from a series of deadlines that afford them the freedom to proceed with diligence and care. Deadlines serve as check-ins, essentially, so these instances will provide your team with ample opportunity to examine its progress and realign their approach, if necessary.

5.  Monitor progress regularly.

Because the aforementioned deadlines give you and your team numerous opportunities to review your progress, everyone involved can easily monitor the solution’s success in real time. While it’s important to establish the baseline concept for the solution to your problem, the hypothesis driving your team’s work might not prove accurate over time. Customers can be unpredictable and how they react to your response might not be what you expected. Thus, it’s critical to continually monitor how the changes you’ve enacted are performing under the scrutiny of those for whom it was intended all along. How you feel about the solution and how customers feel about the solution don’t always align, so your CAP must account for their perspectives at every stage.

Geo-specific game-plans: North America

When crafting a customer experience game-plan CX practitioners should consider the geographic location of their target audience if they want to fully meet expectations and delight customers.

As mentioned by Martin Ortlieb, User Experience Researcher at Google, humans are more similar than they are different. However, an awareness of what those differences are and how culture contributes to them could be the key to having a competitive edge with customers in a certain location.

Murray Goodwin, Director, CX Advisory, IPSOS MORI Customer Experience notes: “Understanding how your customers interact with your products and services within different cultures can make or break your commercial successes.”

He adds: “We recently helped a global CPG manufacturer interpret the role that laundry fragrance plays around the globe. Our research revealed a whole host of interesting quirks, but in the US in particular, we learned that having clean-smelling clothes plays a far more important role than it does across Europe, as people were more likely to greet one another with a hug in the west and therefore the way you smell has more significant implications for peoples’ perceptions of your social status.”

He urges brands to remember that people give different NPS scores in different countries. “Selling new cars in the US? We’ve shown that your customers will be far more likely to recommend you to others than if you were selling the same cars in Italy.”

Market consensus agrees that the United States is the most advanced region for brand experience and customer segmentation in most industries, with trends emerging first in the US and then spreading to other countries a few weeks later. As these customers have a higher chance of exposure to world-leading experiences, people based in the US are likely to have higher expectations than their global counterparts.

Support for this argument was witnessed in Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service report which polled 5,000 individuals across Brazil, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Of the US customers surveyed:


  • 62% have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience *
  • 43% have done this in the last 12 months *
  • 42% feel the quality of customer service is getting worse *
  • 56% have higher expectations for customer service now than they had a year ago 


*This rate exceeded the global average.

Here, CX Network looks at how CX practitioners in North America are reacting to industry trends in their mission to impress US customers and prospects.  This piece will delve into exclusive insights from a research group of US CX professionals from the 2019 Global State of Customer Experience Report to map out key localised customer engagement trends and pain-points.

Top trends for US CX practitioners

Omni-channel: The omni-channel model and the notion of meeting customers in their channel of choice appears to be a much higher priority for US practitioners than their international peers.

If they want to field the omni-channel set-up, brands need to have the correct resourcing in place. In regards to the offline vs digital prioritisation, in one of the recent CX Network Advisory Board calls, Board member Claire Hill, Customer Experience Director of Studio Retail Limited noted: “In previous years there was a laser focus on being digital first – but now we are no longer talking about the online vs offline piece. We are shifting away from just going digital for the sake of it. Internal operational changes are in place so we aren’t pushing the digital agenda forward – we very clearly display phone numbers for customer contact or live chat. We are allowing the customer to interact with us via the channel they choose.”

To inform the operational strategy that would ensure their resourcing was flexible enough to respond to different channels, Claire recalls: “….we turned to historical data to spot trends to inform decisions about having resourcing in the right areas. When a new channel is introduced there may be a spike where take-up is higher than expected – this will even out and help to inform future decisions.”

Human-centred design: Human-centered design centres on providing an experience that solves the needs of a target audience. US practitioners seem to have more interest in this area than the global average, which is encouraging as customer-first cultures need to be nurtured and these exercises contribute to the foundations needed to roll-out more predictive customer service efforts. According to Microsoft’s report, US customers appreciate proactive customer service notifications. Therefore, brands which can pre-empt the needs of their US customers place themselves in a strong position to win loyalty.

At the Omnichannel Exec Forum, Steve Kato-Spyrou – UX Manager, John Lewis highlighted the importance of validating concepts using design thinking approaches. The process of 6 Up-sketching in workshops was discussed – coming up with as many ideas as humanly possible, as hearing ideas from peers can spark creativity. He noted that John Lewis puts ideas generated from workshops in front of its customers to see which ones are popular. In fact, customers visit the John Lewis Customer Hub in person four times a week to inform the validation cycle followed by researchers.

Investment priorities 

Customer acquisition and contact centre solutions seem to have attracted more budget from this section of customer experience practitioners in comparison to their global counterparts.

Customer acquisition:  Healthy lines of new business are critical in the US as customers may be at a high risk of churn. According to Microsoft’s research, the number of US customers that have left a brand because of poor customer service in the last 12 months exceeds the global average.  Businesses should capitalise on this switching economy by making their brand desirable to their competitor’s neglected high-lifetime value customers. Advocates should be empowered to entice new customers and brands should turn themselves into digital listeners offering multiple options for conversion.

Contact centre solutions & Customer insight: It is logical that this batch of CX professionals are investing in bolstering contact centres with more training and equipment with the strong emphasis from the region on knowledgeable customer service representatives.  

A holistic and, if possible, 360° view of the customer will helpful to brands as the majority of US customers surveyed agreed that customer service representatives should know their contact, product and service information/history. This dashboard view provides agents and frontline staff with a more intimate understanding of customers, the services they are subscribed to, their past behaviours and real-time preferences. This rich, relevant insight and real time visualisation of data can be leveraged to proactively engage with customers’ needs in real-time when it really matters.

Key Challenges 

Building a customer-first culture: Similar to practitioners based in countries outside of the US, it appears difficult for businesses to fully tear away from a business-first, product focused end-to-end business mind-set in order to live and breathe a customer-first culture. Customer-centric validation techniques are crucial for educating researchers on improving products and processes. This is especially important in the US as customers in this region seem to be more willing to switch brands after a bad experience.

Linking CX initiatives to ROI:  ROI and board buy-in are significant challenges for all CX practitioners. Both areas are crucial for unlocking future CX investments. CX has a strong influence on business success hence the strong level of investment going into CX, but this of course triggers a desire from senior management for results. The inability to communicate the financial business case can jeopardize the future of a finely crafted CX program.

Final Remark 

In order to win market-share in a certain location, brands should arm themselves with any insights that will give them the edge over their competitors.  A few of these game-changing strategies may be hidden in the regionally influenced preferences of your customers. To capture these preferences, companies should mine their Voice of the Customer data and use it to inform their personalisation methodologies going forward.

For this region in particular, businesses would be well placed to remember that US customers appear to be ready and willing to leave a company because of bad customer experiences. Therefore, when servicing these customers in this area a conscious effort should be made to provide a solid service and recover experiences as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If you want more detail on these findings click here

Master These Omnichannel Management Strategies to Boost Workforce Optimization

CEM and Employee Engagement

With numerous channels at their disposal around the clock, the average customer journey no longer adheres to one predictable path. Thus, as companies evolve to satisfy demand, they have begun to adopt new technologies and strategies that enable them to meet the consumer where they work and play. Whether it’s in-person or online, customer-centric brands constantly work to expand their reach so they can maintain consistency across channels at all times. Yet, while this new normal has set the bar higher, many businesses have yet to grasp these new strategies to their fullest extent.

Leaders understand that their companies must establish a presence along each available avenue on the path to purchase, but many still struggle to achieve workforce optimization in the face of these emerging technologies, as the key to success lies in balancing the needs of both the agents and customers to augment productivity and experience. But, by mastering the four fundamental forms of management—field service, help desk, knowledge, and online community forum—businesses can develop the omnichannel approach they need to bring customer centricity to the next level.

Field Service Management

Despite the popular turn toward digital, many customer service interactions still take place in person. Whether it’s in-stores or in the field, there are some needs that simply can’t be satisfied over the phone or online. Thus, not only do your customer service representatives need to be equipped with the technology necessary to fulfill their duties—access to the customer’s history, for instance, might help them pinpoint any underlying or recurring issues—but they also need to have the proper personnel training. Customer service representatives must have people skills in order to establish and sustain the type of rapport that supports loyalty and retention.

Help Desk Management

Because help desks generally consist of internal operations that assist employees and business partners as they manage their various IT assets, leaders must focus on hiring and training strong employees who are motivated to provide exceptional service every single day. To ensure these employees have the capacity to handle any task, brands must develop an enterprisewide culture that enables representatives to track issues end-to-end so nothing slips through the cracks. It’s increasingly important to provide consistent, personalized support, as customers can easily turn to the competition at any moment. Customer service experiences can make or break these long-term relationships.

Knowledge Management (Self-Service/Remote Support)

Knowledge management acts an umbrella term for the self-service and remote support options modern companies must offer consumers. Because customers are distinctly independent today, they often seek self-service opportunities before they ever engage with representatives. They’d much prefer to solve their issue on their own, if possible. Companies must, therefore, establish the framework and strategies required to develop self-service portals that provide omnichannel access to the information they need to answer their questions and solve their problems. Remote support, of course, remains a byproduct of knowledge management and self-service, as these technologies empower agents to provide seamless service from afar.

Online Community Forum Management

In many cases, consumers turn to one another for assistance when they encounter issues with a particular product or service. Many seek advice from their Twitter followers. Others share their problem on public forums in hope that others will have experienced (and solved) the dilemma. When people pursue this route, it’s often because they couldn’t rectify the issue via the brand’s self-service database.

However, because these inquiries are typically posted on third-party sites, leaders must decide how to intervene. Here, CRMI outlines the questions companies must answer when developing their approach:

  1. Agree on your forum governance model. How involved do you want to be in managing your forum?
  2. Agree on intervention protocols. What kind of comments, questions and issues are going to prompt a facilitator intervention?
  3. Determine intervention procedures. What are your approval processes for releasing intervention content?
  4. Determine intervention responsibilities. Who is your primary facilitator/site manager?
  5. Ensure proper training for facilitator/site manager. Can someone with extensive customer service experience handle the site? Do they need specialist media training?
  6. Ensure community members know rules of engagement. Make sure the moderation rules are appropriate for your forum.

But, before implementing any new technologies and strategies, leaders must take stock of their company’s current state and perform an audit to establish strengths and weaknesses across the enterprise. Leaders must understand where they suffer and where they excel so they can focus on improving specific management techniques. While some companies will require a complete overhaul, many will find they’re already on the road to success. After all, workforce optimization can’t thrive without deliberate, effective strategies to guide service and experience initiatives. When employees are equipped with the tools and training they need to succeed, everyone wins.

Keep the Lines of CX Communication Open

Keep the Lines of CX Communication Open

What’s in it for me? That’s the question key stakeholders will ask as you build your customer experience management (CEM) roadmap.

What they’re really asking is:

  • How will they or their team benefit?
  • What will they be expected to do differently—and at what cost in terms of time and effort?
  • And, how does their role link to customer experience, satisfaction, and loyalty?

With the groundwork of your CEM program defined, it’s time for formal communications with your key stakeholders to answer those questions, and to gain their support as you implement your plans.

Who are those stakeholders? They’re the internal and external groups you’ve been surveying and analyzing all along; getting their input to ensure that your CEM efforts will be supported internally, and are as relevant to employees as they will be to customers. Of course, your stakeholders naturally are curious about what it all means to them, their team, and their workload.

Your CEM program sets expectations for process improvements in your customer- and employee-facing operations. You now must communicate those expectations broadly and repeatedly. This will help to ensure understanding, buy-in, and participation.

You also must communicate transparently the results of your CEM strategy. If you don’t share this information, you’ll lose credibility with your stakeholders. Not only will they be less likely to embrace the needed changes to meet the expectations set in your CEM program, but, without follow-up communication, they’ll be left to assume by your silence that the results of the company’s CEM efforts are negative.

Initially, not every component of your CEM strategy will meet its stated objectives. That’s OK. Those elements will likely improve over time with changes and adjustment. In fact, it’s important to communicate the planned changes so stakeholders can stay apprised of progress and improvements, and understand how these adjustments may impact their roles and responsibilities.

But, of course, there will be wins. So, you’ll have a compelling story to tell about those specific improvements in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

You can use tools such as benchmarking and satisfaction studies to showcase your initial and ongoing successes to key internal and external audiences. You can also use these communications tools to further brand your CEM strategy and keep its momentum moving forward.

Remember: Transparency and frequent communication are essential to the short- and long-term success of your CEM efforts. Without those critical elements, your stakeholders will consider CEM as just another “program of the week” and revert to their easier and less customer-centric ways of operating.

 Communications to stakeholders is part of the CEMDNA Assess phase—along with win-back strategy and ROI—and one of the 12 of the components that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.

The Value of Being an Energized Organization

One of the attributes of Best in Class organizations that has always interested me is their ability to focus their energies so enthusiastically on being customer centric. I often find this is further enhanced by their ability to “walk the talk,” as they share this commitment among their employees and customers.

I’m convinced this happens when a company’s leadership truly understands their business and focuses on what is most valuable in delivering success to their customers. These leaders understand the value of customer experience and how it builds loyalty and grows profits. And, they recognize that a customer-centric culture can result in a better experience for customers and employees.

As leaders, must we recognize what is truly of value to our business, to our customers, and to the way we go about our business. But, just as important, we must work to make sure our employees understand and see it as we do. Remember, a customer-centric organization, one that delivers Customer Success, makes it a point to help customers find the right solutions for their needs wherever they touch the company.

The essence of a company’s business goals must be customer experience and growth.

So, I ask: Can you clearly express the value proposition your company offers? Do your employees and your customers see it as you do? To what extent are you and your team committed to this proposition?

Customer-centric transformation

Customer centricity must go beyond just short-term successes to the more strategic need of creating an environment and enthusiasm that will endure over the long term. It’s about transforming the culture and engaging employees to embrace the mind-set and passion of being a customer-driven organization.

We must put the good of the organization ahead of our own personal desires. This effort should become a single-minded purpose and will be one of the most important effort investments we make as leaders. And let us not be casual about this, as it’s often one of the most challenging efforts of leadership. But it’s worth the effort. Making this change assures we deliver value to our customers and our company is rewarded by continued loyalty, growth, and profitability.

What does the transformation entail? It’s about creating an environment that demonstrates the ability to execute and maintain the change. It’s about being recognized for results in a manner welcomed by our customers. To achieve this, we have to understand a great deal about our business and our people.

The following seven steps will help guide you in creating that “take charge and get it done” environment. This does not come without hard work. And, remember, once you have customer centricity pervading your organization, you need to maintain it, as momentum can easily fade away.

1. Know your people, especially those who are the informal leaders and key go-to persons. Make sure these people have and will “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.” Coach them to where you need them to be. Remember, these are the people your team looks to, trusts, and follows.

2. It is also important to recognize employees, the individuals you can rely on to be there, participate, and execute. Take the time to profile your people into groups based on their strengths and weaknesses. Using a skills matrix is one way to do this. Then make the investment in shoring up those weaknesses. Take time to create an environment that inspires people to learn and keeps them well informed. This way, they will remain engaged.

3. Prepare a series of communications to introduce your vision and detail the cultural transformation. Approach the achievers with the plan early on so they recognize their roles. They have a great amount of influence over others, so it’s essential they understand and buy in to the value proposition, the transformation, and what is expected of them.

Then community the strategy, purpose, objective, expectations, etc. with clarity again, and again, and again. You must be clear on the connection to customer centricity at the employee level. How else will they understand its importance and value of their contribution?

4. Assuming you have measured the strengths and weaknesses of your team, you can map the transformation journey. For example, take-charge organizations empower their people. Have your people been trained to understand the importance of being empowered, when and how far to go with this responsibility, and the judgment required for maximizing results?

Once you map the journey, you’ll have identified the key touchpoints and barriers to success. Addressing these along with an empowered team is a formula for delivering customer success. Create a cross-functional team willing to overcome silo barriers. And, ensure that internal teams are connected to the customer teams.

Mapping the transformation journey should also include clear and concise measures of success.

5. It’s essential that you have a communication loop in place. This is a must for feedback, strategy revision, and alignment. Consider using Town Hall-style meetings, internal surveys, small group luncheons, etc. based on what works best for your organization. You can never over-communicate and, likewise, you should never stop listening. Don’t make the mistake of settling back and thinking, “Now that everything is in place, we’re OK.” In an energized organization, there is very little time to relax…further change is always on the horizon.

6. Check and recheck for alignment. This is critical. Rely on those people you can trust to be objective. As painful as it can be at times, we need a candid evaluation about how the transformation is evolving. Also, do not be afraid to make adjustments. The worst thing we can do is to recognize the need for change and then not execute accordingly. Ignoring a problem is rarely the proper approach to take in solving it. It usually just makes things worse and perpetuates a defense mechanism or feeling of denial that ultimately leads to unhappy employees and customers.

7. Finally, think about…

  • When was the last time you spoke to a customer?
  • What does your voice of the customer feedback tell you?
  • When did you last check on how well your message is resonating with your employees and customers?
  • How are you measuring the level of customer centricity?
  • Do your customers achieve Customer Success?
  • Is your customer’s journey seamless and easy?

As business leaders, we put processes in place and train our people to anticipate customer needs. Some of this is predictable and we are prepared. But there are customer events that are less predictable, and cannot easily be resolved in a routine manner. In either case, these are “moments of truth.” Understand how to optimize those moment to ensure customer delight. Excite and energize your organization and you and your team will be prepared for whatever those defining moments bring as you transform to a customer-centric organization.



Dennis Gershowitz

About the Author
Dennis Gershowitz is founder and principal of DG Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in driving service revenues and profits through the development and implementation of customer experience management (CEM) strategy and service operations improvements. Contact Dennis at


Customer Journey Mapping the Road to Better Business Value

Customer Journey Mapping the Road to Better Business Value

Before technology grabbed hold of the customer experience, the path to purchase was typically linear. Customers entered the funnel and followed through to the end goal, the point of sale. But, now that consumers have countless ways to connect with prospective companies, leaders must guarantee that every touchpoint greets both current and potential customers with one consistent brand message. Customer journey mapping now stands as the essential tool for understanding consumer behavior in modern contexts.

While customer journey mapping was once reserved for simply pinpointing customer experience issues, companies are now putting this strategy at the heart of the development process. Many prior strategies failed to put the customer at the center of the planning process, but doing so at the onset promises to boost engagement and retention. However, not all brands have reached this stage at the present moment.

The CMO Council’s “Making Personalization Possible” report emphasizes that, while marketers recognize that comprehensive customer journey mapping (44 percent) represents the future for successful, long-term customer relationships, deep understanding of each individual customer doesn’t come easy. While the majority of marketers—86 percent—are unable to personalize experiences across the entire customer journey, many can now better tie such engagements to business impact by focusing on improving retention (69 percent) and acquisition (62 percent) rates. However, only 29 percent of marketers agree that an omnichannel approach to customer engagement holds the key to long-term relationships, despite the fact that this holistic method has become the backbone for effective journey mapping.

For those grappling with the intricacies of customer journey mapping, companies must ask four crucial questions as they develop their analytical strategy:

  1. Which channels do our customers prefer?
  2. How does customer sentiment compare at these various touchpoints?
  3. What inspires customers to choose one channel over another?
  4. How are we interacting with customers on each channel?

Successful journey mapping requires equal parts internal and external analysis, as assessing this level of incoming data will be rendered null and void if the brand itself doesn’t have the correct processes in place behind the scenes. Determining customer pain points might offer guidance, but said information serves little purpose if companies don’t have the appropriate protocols for response established. Leaders must also realize that issues need to be identified and rectified in real time. Everything’s instantaneous now, and customers pursue relationships with companies that demonstrate competency and concern at every stage of their overall journey.

For each moment of truth, brands must be ready, willing, and able to service customers. Sure, it seems daunting to position customer service representatives at every available touchpoint, but there’s no longer one or two points of entry where the customer journey begins. Instead, today’s journey seems more like a maze—there may be more than one starting point, but only one path leads to the desired destination. Leaders must ensure that consumers don’t hit any roadblocks along the way.

Brands must also establish one unified brand message to stand guard at each possible moment of truth. Like people, companies have one opportunity to make their best first impression. If one or more channels fail to maintain this level of consistency, brands risk losing business from any prospect that enters the pipeline at said touchpoints. Analyzing the interactions that take place at each touchpoint will better equip team members to handle future engagements, as they’ll be familiar with potential problems and prepared to take the next-best action in cases where issues arise. Operations cannot possibly run smoothly 24/7, so it’s proactive and practical to teach all employees how to manage these contact channels in the case of crisis or dissatisfaction.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to customer journey mapping or its subsequent back-end adjustments and improvements. However, its underlying value remains undisputed. If brands wish to truly embody the concept of customer-centric DNA—the pinnacle of modern CX for today’s leading companies—leaders must tailor their technique to correspond with the wants and needs of their customers. Journey mapping, though often belated, presents brands with the opportunity to gain deeper insight into every aspect of the overarching customer experience.

Customer experience management ultimately serves as the cornerstone for successful journey mapping endeavors. Without an efficient, long-term CEM strategy, it’s almost impossible to put customer data to good use. Technology has only inflated the volume of Big Data insights, so it’s up to every given company to determine their current CEM maturity level in context with today’s evolving behaviors. Employee involvement, however, can give less advanced brands the upper hand in this highly competitive environment.

Internal branding now stands as one of the greatest differentiators across all industries. Outward relationships depend upon an internal culture that not only puts the consumer first, but also puts employees n the driver’s seat. By establishing an internal culture that highlights each employee’s impact on the customer experience, customer centricity isn’t just learned—it’s lived throughout the entire organization. Internal branding brings the desire for unified messaging to the frontlines, as employees recognize that they hold the power to make or break customer relationships.

Thus, customer journey mapping provides insight into consumer behaviors, which influences the way employees uphold brand promise, which in turn, circles back to the customer experience. Everything’s intertwined, but it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to manage and maintain CX. Customer centricity will always be the key ingredient for satisfying, long-term relationships, but it’s up to each brand whether to serve it up hot or cold.

About the Authors

Dennis Gershowitz is founder and principal of DG Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in driving service revenues and profits through the development and implementation of customer experience management (CEM) strategy and service operations improvements. Contact Dennis at


Bill Moore is VP of CRMI. He designs and delivers CEM best practices workshops, as well as CEMPRO employee loyalty, training and retention programs, that result in the increasing customer satisfaction, employee retention, and profitability for CRMI clients.

Weaving CEM Into the Fabric of an Organization

CEM and Employee Engagement

The overall objective of any customer experience management (CEM) strategy is to evolve your organization’s DNA to the point where it is entirely customer driven. That’s not going to happen without a robust change management program.

CEMDNA Change Management is one approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state where customer experience is not a primary focus to a desired, future state where the customer is central to all decision making. The approach involves implementing organizational processes designed to encourage stakeholders to accept and embrace customer centricity in their business environment. These include:

Management coaching: Senior business leaders can’t just expect managers to suddenly manage differently because of a decree of customer centricity. Managers need to be trained on how to implement CEM within their team, as well as on any related skills. What the training will entail should be based on your CEM strategy and the specific objectives of any related CEM programs.

Benchmarking: Use best practices examples from your existing customer interactions to showcase your preferred future state. This will demonstrate to employees that customer centricity not only is possible, but also is an established, successful approach that savvy employees are already using.

Measurement: Set performance metrics, such as financial results and operational efficiencies, to guide the change efforts. Also create and track goals for leadership commitment and the effectiveness of internal communications related to the CEM change management efforts.

Process tracking: It’s essential to monitor the progress of your CEM change management efforts. This will allow you to see where you’re succeeding, as well as where you’re stalling. In case of the latter, you’ll be able to quickly uncover the cause of the situation and resolve it to allow for continued forward momentum.

Team coaching: Consider external coaching on the job and soft skills needed for customer centricity to be a part of your organizational DNA. But just as important, ensure that managers are trained well enough to provide initial and continued coaching on the skills most important to the CEM transformation and to ongoing customer centricity.

 CEMDNA change management is part of the Act phase—along with corrective action and employee engagement—and one of the 12 of the components that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.

Corrective Action Planning in Customer Experience Management

Corrective Action Planning in Customer Experience Management

Corrective Action Planning in Customer Experience Management

A natural result of benchmarking your current state customer experience against your CX goals is change. Of course, you’ll need to make changes to your customer experience management strategy over the short and long term. But, remember, an essential part of that planning is determining how you’ll respond to issues that customers raise—especially concerns raised by high-value clients. That’s what we’ll focus on here.

Take these five steps to get your customer-focused corrective action plans in place.

Prepare a corrective action plan – Corrective action plans address critical external customer issues. Formulate your plans with two goals in mind: quickly responding to key accounts based up their experience and issues that emerge; addressing internal systemic issues that negatively impact customer-related processes. The latter are often discovered in addressing the former.

Create closed-loop Action Alerts A critical element of a corrective action plan is to “close the loop” on every action needed. Create alerts that allow you to track the progress of actions taken to resolve immediate customer concerns, as well as address larger systemic issues. This will enable you to be sure that issues are attended to and resolved. Or, they’ll alert you to take any further action required.

Build in accountability for results Assign responsibility to frontline and management-level personnel to carry out the corrective action plans. Clearly delineate their objectives and roles in taking immediate corrective action, as well as recommending solutions to longer-term systemic issues.

Verify and communicate results Develop a system that allows you to verify that the corrective actions taken have resolved customer issues. For immediate concerned raised by a customer (especially a key account), be proactive and reach out to other customers who may have experienced the same issue and present your solution.

Additionally, confirm internally that you’ve address any systemic problems that caused the more immediate issues in the first place. Action Alerts are essential to this process.

Once you’ve verified that an immediate concern or systemic issue has been resolved, communicate that out to key stakeholders. Those stakeholders may include customers affected by the issue, account managers, sales or customer service leaders, employees in teams related to the issue.

Review the plan – Your corrective action plan should be flexible enough to evolve over time. Examine your plan’s progress and results on a quarterly basis and make appropriate changes to the plan based on that insight.

Corrective action is part of the Act phase—along with employee engagement and change management—and one of the 12 of the components that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.

Paving the Way for Omnichannel Customer Service

Paving the Way for Omnichannel Customer Service

Customers will contact you for service based on how it best suits them, so you need to be ready to respond in their preferred channel—or set of channels. And, you need to be ready to respond with consistency across all your service channels.

This doesn’t mean simply providing top-notch service in siloed channels—calls, online chat, email, etc.). It also means having the ability to provide that excellent customer service within those individual channels and seamlessly across them. So, if a customer begins a service interaction via chat, and then escalates to a call, those touches aren’t two discreet interactions, but instead is one interaction that bridges the two channels.

This level of service requires process and technology changes. Here are five ways to begin the move from the multichannel service most companies provide today to the omnichannel service customers prefer today and will expect tomorrow.

Be a good listener – Knowing what customers expect when it comes to customer service starts by asking them. Gather input through activities such as surveys and social listening. Also, track customers’ behaviors to surface the differences between stated and implied preferences. This combination of data will help you to determine the ideal mix of service channels for your organization. That insight will then lay the foundation for the people, process, and technology changes you may need to make to best meet customers’ service expectations in a way that makes the most business sense for your company.

Be where your customers are – Where do your customers expect to be able to contact you for service? Make sure that you’re present and available in those channels. For example, if most customers prefer to call you, have your toll-free number clearly available on your website, in your email, and in other communications channel—even on your social pages. If your customers expect service via social media, ensure you have a meaningful presence there.

Whenever possible, make service available where customers spend their time that isn’t a typical touchpoint. For instance, providing in-app service instead of forcing customers to interrupt their activity or switch channels.

Be proactive – Use alerts to inform customers of potential service disruptions, schedule changes, and the like—and be sure to do so in their channel(s) of choice. This may vary based on the urgency of the communication, and customers may want notifications via more than one channel, so be sure to provide multiple options. You can ask customers for this information during a registration or purchase process, or you can provide a preference center.

Be connected – Technologies are available to create a holistic view of customer data that allows companies to respond with greater relevance and have insight into customers’ service journeys. Consider investing in systems that allow you, for example, to know what actions a registered customer took on your website before calling the contact center, so the agent who takes the call can seamlessly handle the issue without requiring the customer to explain everything she’s done up to that point.

Be flexible – Train your service agents to handle interactions across multiple touchpoints. This allows for more leeway in scheduling and helps improves your organization’s ability to be responsive as interactions across various channels ebb and flow. It’s also an effective way to engage agents by diversifying their job and broadening their skills.

Most organizations are at the beginning of their journey toward delivering true omnichannel customer service. Businesses further down the road can use that better customer experience as a competitive advantage.

These five approaches can help pave the way for your organization to make omnichannel customer service an integral part of your successful customer experience management strategy—and give your company the winning edge.